Bob’s Burgers produces some of the best Thanksgiving episodes on television, never failing to send the Belcher family on a series of zany adventures as they try to celebrate Turkey Day. Since it first started airing in 2011, Bob’s Burgers has consistently delivered laughs and heartwarming family moments, and nowhere does it succeed more than in its holiday specials. Now in its 11th season, and just having passed its 200th episode, the animated sitcom continues to impress.
Bob’s Burgers focuses on Bob and Linda Belcher, the owners of the titular restaurant, as well as their three children: Tina, Gene, and Louise. A dedicated cook, Bob is passionate about food, and he always relishes the chance to show off his skills on Thanksgiving, his favorite holiday. Of course, with a family as chaotic as his, he rarely gets to serve the Thanksgiving dinner of his dreams. Instead, he and his family often find themselves at the center of hilarious, unlikely situations.
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There have been nine Thanksgiving episodes throughout Bob’s Burgers‘ 11 seasons. From a turkey-centric whodunnit to a zombie movie parody, these episodes revitalize the sitcom staple of the holiday special with creativity and heart. Even though the Belchers never have the perfect, traditional Thanksgiving, their escapades always bring them closer together as a family.
“An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal” – Season 3, Episode 5
In Bob’s Burgers‘ first Thanksgiving episode, Bob gets an offer he can’t refuse: cook Thanksgiving dinner for his landlord Mr. Fischoeder, in exchange for five months’ rent. The catch? The rest of the Belchers have to pretend to be Mr. Fischoeder’s loving family so he can reunite with his old flame, Shelby Schnabel, who loves to break up happy marriages. Bob is determined to still have as normal a Thanksgiving as possible, but his family gets too into the act: Linda commits hard to her role, and the kids compete for prizes in exchange for the most convincing performance as a loving child. A sharpshooting chase, an absinthe-induced homage to My Neighbor Totoro, and Linda’s iconic Thanksgiving song round out this hilarious episode, where the Belchers realize they should spend the holiday with their own family, not disguised as someone else’s.
“Turkey In A Can” – Season 4, Episode 5
Bob’s Burgers tries its hand at a classic mystery with “Turkey in a Can”. In the days before Thanksgiving, Bob’s precious brined turkey keeps winding up in the toilet in the middle of the night. All eyes are on prankster Louise, who is determined to prove her innocence. She lines up the suspects: Was it Tina, who wants desperately to sit at the grown-ups’ table? Was it Aunt Gayle, as revenge for Bob’s dislike of her cats? Or was it Gene or Linda? The truth is surprisingly touching, considering that the plot revolves around a turkey in a toilet.
“Dawn Of The Peck” – Season 5, Episode 4
Bob’s Burgers and George Romero zombie films don’t seem like they would work well together, but “Dawn Of The Peck” proves that assumption wrong. When a flock of unusually aggressive turkeys are released as part of the town’s first Turk-tacular Turkey Town Festival, Linda and the kids have to fight to escape the wharf, which is now overrun by attacker birds. Meanwhile, Bob boycotts Thanksgiving in anger at the festival and remains blissfully unaware of the carnage outside. It’s a fun episode filled with classic zombie film tropes, Thanksgiving fun, and the added bonus of Bob gleefully singing Donna Summer.
“Gayle Makin’ Bob Sled” – Season 6, Episode 4
Bob and Gayle find themselves in a wintry crisis when Bob tries to bring Gayle to the Belchers’ for Thanksgiving. His car gets snowed in, so he resorts to pulling an injured Gayle through the snowy streets in an inflatable pool. As the day goes on, Bob coaches Linda on how to cook the Thanksgiving turkey over the phone, which only results in Linda panicking more. Everything that could go wrong in this episode does go wrong, including Gayle losing one of her cats. Still, the Belcher family sticks through it all together, leaving the audience with the message that even when family members can be annoying, they’re still family, which is something to celebrate.
“The Quirk-Ducers” – Season 7, Episode 6
Bob’s Burgers takes on comedy classic The Producers in the Thanksgiving episode “The Quirk-Duecers”, which focuses on Tina, the oldest Belcher child. Gene and Louise are dreading their school’s annual Thanksgiving play, which takes away their half day before the long weekend. According to them, the only way to get their half day is to put on a play that’s so bad, it gets cancelled. They convince Tina to adapt her ‘friend fiction’ into a play called ‘The Quirky Turkey.’ Pigs dance, gizzards fly, and catchy songs reign in this Thanksgiving episode about self-acceptance and individuality.
“Thanks-Hoarding” – Season 8, Episode 5
When Teddy the handyman asks the Belchers to help him get his Thanksgiving on track in time for his family’s visit, the family springs into action, even if Bob and the kids are a little reluctant at first. Things take a turn when Linda discovers that Teddy hoards things he thinks he can fix with his handyman skills. The Belchers plan to help Teddy with his hoarding problem, while Bob pushes himself to cook two perfect Thanksgiving dinners – one for him and one for Teddy. This may be the saddest of the Bob’s Burgers Thanksgiving episodes, as viewers get a deeper glimpse into Teddy’s life, but it’s also one of the sweetest, as the Belchers prove themselves to be a part of Teddy’s family, in a way.
“I Bob Your Pardon” – Season 9, Episode 7
The Belchers find themselves at the center of a political conspiracy when the kids overhear that the deputy mayor is sending the turkey he pardoned for Thanksgiving to a slaughterhouse instead of a sanctuary. It’s up to the Belchers to save the turkey, aptly named Drew P. Neck, from a grisly fate. Hijinks ensue in this classic Belcher adventure that includes a high-speed chase, a brush with coyotes, and a team-up with an eager journalist.
“Now We’re Not Cooking With Gas” – Season 10, Episode 8
Bob has always been obsessed with Thanksgiving – specifically, with making the perfect meal. Every Thanksgiving episode, he goes overboard in his attempts to whip up the perfect turkey, becoming much more intense than usual. In no episode does he try as hard – or go as crazy – as he does than in “Now We’re Not Cooking With Gas”. Bob gets his hands on the perfect heritage turkey after years on this farm’s waiting list. It’s a cruel twist of fate when their house’s gas goes out before he can cook it. Bob sets up a makeshift fire pit where he can roast the turkey, but the fire department and the weather will do everything in their powers to stop him from making the ultimate turkey.
“Diarrhea Of A Poopy Kid” – Season 11, Episode 7
The normally peppy Gene is subdued because he can’t eat Thanksgiving dinner. He’s got a nasty stomach bug, so Louise, Tina, and Bob take turns telling him stories that will get him to hate food. Each story puts a food-related spin on a classic action movie: the Belchers battle a deadly hunter made of bread in Louise’s “Bread-ator,” and in Tina’s “Pear Force One,” President Gene saves his family from a group of pear hijackers who demand to be appreciated as much as apples.
Bob rounds out the series of vignettes with “Parma-geddon,” with Gene leading a group of marinara drillers to destroy a chicken parmesan asteroid. This episode takes the creativity of Bob’s Burgers to new heights, placing the Belchers in iconic movie roles and letting them have fun with it. Behind it all is the genuine love everyone feels for each other, as they’re telling these insane stories to make Gene feel better and more included on Thanksgiving.
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